Solomon's Goodbye Blog

After a year and three-quarters, my time on staff at DJJ is coming to a close. I leave with so much gratitude for the relationships I’ve built and experiences I’ve had in this role, and a deep sense that the projects I have worked on for almost two years are only getting harder. 

I am leaving with so much gratitude to the DJJ community for welcoming me into the fold. When I moved to Detroit in August 2022, I desperately wanted to be a part of a community. For the two years prior, I had been isolated by the pandemic and had bounced around a lot.  When I landed in Detroit and started working for DJJ, the DJJ community and the local Jewish left ecosystem took me in, and in many ways, taught me what it meant to be in a real-ass adult community. 

I am also grateful to the DJJ community for giving me the opportunity to get to know Detroit’s organizing landscape. When I started with DJJ, my primary organizing experiences were on campus, doing frontline direct action, or in siloed, ultra-left thought circles. While all those experiences still shape me as an organizer, learning about the history and breadth of organizing in Detroit has grounded me in the length and scale of the struggle we are fighting. I don’t think I would have had that learning without DJJ. When I would go to an organizing meeting, and identified myself with DJJ, people were eager to give me the historical context of their work and the strategic direction they were working towards. DJJ has helped me grow as an organizer in such critical ways. 

While we’ve had a lot of organizing wins in the 20 months I’ve worked at DJJ, I am leaving when organizing the Jewish community to support movements for racial and economic justice is harder than ever. On the institutional, familial, and interpersonal level, Israel/Palestine has reconfigured Jewish-American politics. Most mainstream media sources fan the flames whenever it seems that Jews and the left are at odds with one another. How Jewish political organizations, especially on the left, respond to these reconfigurations will shape how Jewish communities relate to movements for racial and economic justice for generations to come. The rest is still very much unwritten!

Over the last eight months, in an effort to concentrate DJJ’s organizing on specific issues, I have focused on housing, and tried to build out DJJ’s Housing and Development committee. As I leave this role, the housing crisis still feels like the most pressing issue facing (metro) Detroit. Local rental and ownership markets are horrible. Due to severe undersupply and high interest rates, only rich people are able to buy homes in the current market, and those folks are still paying dramatically more than their homes are valued at. Further, due to few affordable rental units, negligible renter’s protections, and a housing policy approach that ignores affordability, renters are paying more for less value with minimal housing security. The housing crisis will resolve itself somehow, but will the new equilibrium be a landlord’s utopia where Detroit becomes a land playground for the rich or will we capitalize on the unique land conditions of Detroit in order to build a city that is affordable for anyone to live in? We have the power to shape the answer at this critical inflection point. Doing so requires pushing for poor and working people’s housing interests at the building, city, county, and state level. I’ll be staying involved with DJJ’s housing work through our participation in the Rent is Too Damn High Coalition, and I hope you will join us! Talk with Stevie about the best way to get involved!

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    commented on Solomon's Goodbye Blog 2024-06-14 12:55:00 -0400
    Solomon, you have been an awesome Director of Organizing and a pleasure to work with. It’s been gratifying to witness your growth as a Detroit organizer and your exemplary dedication to the movements and campaigns DJJ supports. You have greatly contributed to DJJ’s growth for which we are all grateful. You will be missed in your current role. but so happy to know we will have the opportunity to continue to be in relationship and solidarity with you!- Lori
    published Solomon's Goodbye Blog in Blog 2024-06-11 15:56:37 -0400